Marvel invades the NBA, and Pepsi Blue returns: Trending

Winner

When an agency simply holds onto an account, it’s usually not big news. But we’ve got to salute VMLY&R for successfully defending its U.S. Navy account, if only for the sheer amount of money involved. The five-year contract renewal is worth about $455 million, making the WPP-owned shop this week’s top gun.

Loser

What were they thinking? The proposed Super League of high-end European soccer teams, who were attempting to form their own competition, collapsed under a wave of criticism this week. It was “one of the biggest PR disasters in sporting history,” Rakesh Dhall, a former European soccer player and current agency exec, wrote in Ad Age this week. For his list of branding lessons from the saga, check this out.

ICYMI

Celebrities and fast food never seem to go out of style. The latest example: This post on McDonald’s striking a deal with BTS, the K-pop supergroup, was among our most popular stories of the week based on reader engagement. Get all the details here.

Marvel invades the NBA

Disney is once again merging sports and entertainment with a Marvel-ESPN collaboration for the May 3 broadcast of the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans game. The telecast, branded “Marvel’s Arena of Heroes,” will include custom graphics and animation that integrates an original story featuring Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow and Doctor Strange throughout the live game. It will air on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes, with the traditional game telecast shown on ESPN. Last year, Disney integrated another one of its entertainment properties, The Muppets, into ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” with segments starring the fuzzy characters that it called “Muppet Night Football.” 

Regulation watch

Industry execs looking for uniformity in privacy laws won’t like this: A slew of new legislation is gaining ground across multiple states, from Alaska to Virginia. Find out more here.

Pepsi’s got the blues

Pepsi is making another retro play. The cola brand is bringing back Pepsi Blue, the berry-flavored cola that last appeared in 2004. The beverage was backed with significant marketing, including ads from Britney Spears, but it only lasted a couple of years. Still, Pepsi execs apparently think there are enough people who remember to justify its return, which is only for a limited time. The 10-week run will begin on May 3. One rationale for these retro plays is that they draw earned media, which was the case a few years ago when Crystal Pepsi came back for a limited time. 

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